All posts tagged: usa

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Tammy Dunbar: Sharing Test-Taking Tips With Sway!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA One year when I was teaching a First Grade class and we were nearing the end of our week-long standardized testing, one little student was so stressed out that he wrote an inappropriate word on his testing booklet. When I showed it to my principal, she sighed and said, “At least he spelled it right.” No one enjoys standardized testing. Not students. Not teachers. Not administrators. Is that a number two pencil? Did the students bubble things in clearly? Did they put the right answer with the right numbered question? Erase those stray marks, please! The new Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment is administered online, which brings a whole new set of difficulties and challenges. Wait! The volume isn’t working. Did you turn it up before entering the secure browser? What’s that flashing on my screen? My screen went blank in the middle of my test! What do I do now? But we know testing – in some form – is necessary, and we know we must do …

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Tammy Dunbar: OneNote To The Rescue!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA We had to have a Student Success Team meeting for Paris immediately. She had recently completed trimester proficiencies as well as reading comprehension testing in Read 180, and it seemed clear she might need more help than she was receiving. Emails were sent back and forth, but because we were in the middle of standardized testing, it was impossible to schedule a meeting so everyone could review the new data that would guide our suggestions on how best to help her. The new data was difficult to review without getting together: only I had access to her district proficieny scores, our Read 180 teacher was the only person with access to Paris’ reading comprehension data, her cumulative file was in a secure room, and our administrator had the only copy of the original SST recommendations which were on paper.  Then it hit me: why not create a OneNote for our Student Success Team? We had been training on using OneNote for ourselves and our classrooms for several months …

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Tammy Dunbar: Add New Spark to Your Class with Newspapers!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Teachers need fact-based, non-fiction content. We need lots of it. And we need it now. The adoption of the new Common Core State Standards paired with the lack of approved curriculum and funds have pushed many educators to be creative in finding appropriate, timely reading material. That critical reading material also has to allow students to demonstrate independence, build strong content knowledge, comprehend as well as critique, understand other perspectives/cultures and use technology & digital media strategically and capably. (From the CCSS English Language Arts Standards.) Thanks to the Newspapers in Education program, teachers and their students can “read all about it” in daily digital editions of their local newspaper. And the cost is a teacher’s favorite “F” word: Free! Most large local daily newspapers participate in the NIE program. All a teacher has to do is contact their local newspaper and ask about it. We have been lucky to participate in The Modesto Bee’s NIE program for almost 12 years. My students have access to a daily …

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Tammy Dunbar: Learning on the Edge of Chaos

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Successful learning is less about what’s memorized and much more about having the ability to make the right connections. But should teachers be the ones making all those connections for their students? At the CUE 2015 Conference, TED Prize winner Professor Sugata Mitra spoke about creating a “Self-Organized Learning Environment” or SOLE. As he points out, it’s often called “learning on the edge of chaos” because it requires an educator to truly be the “Guide on the Side” rather than the “Sage on the Stage.” Sugata postulated: What would happen if we presented our students with goal-oriented challenges that allow them choice and provide opportunities to solve problems on their own? In a remote village in India, he placed a computer and track pad in a Hole in the Wall three feet above the ground to see what would happen. What Sugata discovered, as he outlined in his 2013 TED Prize winning talk and at CUE 2015, is that if children were allowed to work in groups to …

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Becky Keene: Try Something New!

by Becky Keene Expert Educator Columnist, USA Have you ever noticed that kids seem to have a better handle on trying something new than adults? I think anyone who’s watched a child learn can see that children can switch between pieces of information very quickly, and they can soak up new pieces of information like sponges. I was at a school last week helping students get started with Office 365 accounts. Our goal was to have each of them login, create a new document in Word Online, and then see how to access it from any other device. As I got students going (by typing in a URL – yuck; then pinning it to their Start screens – hooray), there were a few students at a table who were, I thought, a little off task. As I walked around to help, one had music streaming and another had a game open. The third boy was drawing with his finger in an app. “Hey boys,” I started, “Let’s go ahead and minimize those so you can …

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Tammy Dunbar: A Genius Idea!

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA “Have you heard of Nancy Wake?” Isabella had just run up to my desk and her eyes were wide with excitement. “I read a story about her when I was younger, and I thought she wasn’t real. But I just found out that she IS real and she was a spy and they called her the White Mouse! May I please study Spies in World War II for my Genius Hour project?” Genius Hour, or 20% time as some call it, is a movement that started more than 60 years ago. The 3M Company (originally known as the Minnestoa Mining and Manufacturing Company) started their “15 Percent Program” in 1948, which allowed all employees to pursue ideas that came up in the course of their work day but which they did not have time to follow up on. Art Fry, a 3M scientist, wanted a bookmark for his church hymnal which would stay in place without runing the book, and his inspiration became the Post It Note. Then …

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Kelli Etheredge: Virtual Breakout Sessions with Office 365

by Kelli Etheredge Expert Educator Columnist, USA How do you gather over 120 educators in one place to collaborate, learn, and have collegial conversations about their profession?  This question is a continual focus for me.  Once a month, St. Paul’s faculty, PK-12, meet as a whole school team for professional development.  As the Director of Teaching and Learning Resources, and the person in charge of these professional development opportunities, I am continually exploring ways for our faculty to have meaningful gatherings.  It sounds easy, right?  Just gather everyone up and meet.  Easy.  Maybe.  IF you have everyone on the same campus; IF you have facilities large enough (and small enough) for collaborative meetings; IF everyone has the same professional development needs.  The reality, however, is none of these “Ifs” are true.  (We have two campuses for our school; a theater is large enough for all of us, but not small enough for the real work of collaboration; and our professional development needs are as varied as the children in our classrooms.)  I am sure we …

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Tammy Dunbar: A Very Edtech Spring Break

by Tammy Dunbar Expert Educator Columnist, USA Spring Break usually means traveling to some exciting exotic destination with family or friends to enjoy some much-needed rejuvenation. But this year, I find myself in a Spring Break Stay-cation where everyone in my family has to work except me. Doing laundry and lesson plans all week does not sound like much fun. Instead, I’ve decided it’s the perfect week for a little professional development in the comfort of my own home. First, wearing my cozy slippers, I registered for and attended the March edition of Microsoft Edcast’s monthly webinars to learn about “Prepping Students for 21st Century Skills Using Office 365.” It was eye-opening to see the International Data Corporation (IDC) Skills Research for Tomorrow’s Best Jobs. The top three skills employers ask for include oral/written communication, detail orientation and Microsoft Office. I also learned at the webinar that Microsoft is not only offering Office 365 free for certain students and teachers, they are also offering MS Office Specialist certifications to students and teachers (and the testing …

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Kelli Etheredge: Personalized Learning for Global Citizens (White Paper Interviews)

by Kelli Etheredge Expert Educator Columnist, USA Personalized Learning is a hot topic in education.  As with many buzzwords in education, however, depending upon who are you listening to, sometimes, it is hard to quantify what personalized learning really means and what value it adds to learning environments.  Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to read the whitepaper Personalized Learning for Global Citizens and then interview its authors, Kathryn Kennedy, Joseph R. Freidhoff, and Kristen DeBruler from the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.  The whitepaper is part of Microsoft in Education’s Transformation Framework series.  In it, Dr. Kennedy and her colleagues discuss the research on personalized learning, the value technology offers when designing a personalized learning environment, and the guiding principles for leaders and educators when implementing a personalized learning program.  I highly recommend Personalized Learning for Global Citizens for all educators and education leaders.  Kennedy and her team not only highlight the research on the topic, but provide practical applications and concrete examples related to the research.  Specifically, the paper itemizes the twelve elements …

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Scott Bricker: Coach’s Corner- Learning to Change

by Scott Bricker Expert Educator Columnist, USA Three weeks ago, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world, a ridiculously adorable little boy named Carter. As his Father I am admittedly incredibly biased in my opinion but, never the less, his arrival got us thinking. Over the first few days of his life, while dodging tears, sleepless nights and all kinds of laughs at his adorable facial expressions, we have had some great conversations about this ever-changing world into which Carter has entered, which is clearly so different than anything we have ever known as students or educators. While Carter definitely has a few years before he has to worry about getting good grades and preparing for his future, the idea that his world experience could not be more different than ours has been, will just not exit my mind. Consequently, I am led to one very important question I feel must be answered in order for this Ed Tech revolution we are all leading to reach a successful conclusion: How do …